Sophie Bolich

Court Suspends City’s Private Security Requirements

6 plaintiffs challenge ordinance tightening rules for businesses hiring security.

By - Apr 15th, 2024 04:23 pm
Milwaukee City Hall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee City Hall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The city’s plan to tighten requirements for private security personnel is on hold — at least temporarily — pending the outcome of a lawsuit.

In March, the Milwaukee Common Council voted unanimously in favor of an ordinance mandating thorough background checks for security guards and personnel. The legislation, led by Alderwoman Andrea Pratt, also required all hired security to be licensed, bonded and insured.

The move came after a gas station guard shot and killed a resident in the Garden Homes neighborhood last summer.

Now, a handful of business owners and security personnel are taking action against the ordinance.

On April 3, Attorneys Emil Ovbiagele and Samantha Huddleston Baker filed a complaint on behalf of six plaintiffs: Brandon Miller, Always Towing & Recovery, Inc., Revel Group, Inc., 5700 Court, LLC, Holt Logistics Corp., and 7330 Development, LLC.

The last four entities mentioned are associated with Revel Bar, Court MVP, Mr. B’s Lounge, and Legends Cocktail Lounge, respectively.

The plaintiffs’ argument has several prongs, but hinges on the assertion that the ordinance is overly vague and encompasses “unduly stringent requirements” that “go beyond what is required” by state law.

The complaint states that those “burdens are disproportionate for small business owners and result in irreparable harm.”

The court granted an injunction on April 10, effectively suspending the enforcement of the ordinance. On Wednesday, the court will consider whether to extend that order, pending a judgment on the case.

The city’s approach to this matter may be different than previous cases, thanks to its new city attorney, Evan Goyke, who unseated incumbent Tearman Spencer in the April 2 election.

Goyke’s four-year term begins Tuesday, April 16.

Judge Brittany Grayson is assigned to the case.

For more information on the ordinance, see Urban Milwaukee’s prior coverage.

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